No. 11 Providence at No. 5 Lewis-Clark State
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. today, Lewis-Clark State Activity Center.
Records: L-C 23-1 overall, 11-1 Frontier Conference; Providence 20-4 overall, 8-4 Frontier Conference.
Players: L-C’s Josiah Westbrook and Damek Mitchell rank No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the NAIA in 3-point shooting percentage, at 52 percent and 51 percent. Westbrook and his ability to get to the rim proved particularly important in the Warriors’ gritty win recently against Montana Tech. The Warriors seemed to gain rhythm on their 3-pointers once they began attacking the basket more, so look for L-C to continue getting into the lane tonight to avoid a repeat of last Saturday, when L-C shot just 30 percent outside (and that was boosted by L-C hitting four of its last 6 3s).
Game themes: Among those admiring what the L-C men have done this season is women’s coach Brian Orr, who during a recent radio interview, talked about how the Warriors are as impressive as he’s ever seen them. Orr remarked upon the Warriors’ 3-point efficiency, but said what sets them apart is their ability to defend. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Warriors rank No. 1 in the NAIA in scoring defense, giving up just 62.5 points per game.
Providence at No. 21 Lewis-Clark State
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m. today, Lewis-Clark State Activity Center.
Records: L-C 16-6 overall, 8-4 Frontier Conference; Providence 14-10 overall, 5-7 Frontier Conference.
Players: L-C’s two star forwards, Abbie Johnson and Kiara Burlage, are both capable of taking control of a game — so what happens when both of them do so at the same time? You get a performance like last week, when they combined nearly evenly for 51 points, with 31 of those in the second half. If the Warriors can continue to get production like that, they’ll be a lock for at least an Elite Eight run.
Game themes: The Warriors recently climbed into a tie for the Frontier Conference lead, and while the team they’re playing tonight isn’t one of the other two squads vying for the title, L-C still needs to win this game to control its own destiny. The Warriors had started league play 1-3 before turning things around by winning seven of their past eight. The Warriors’ lone loss during that stretch was by 3, to another one of the teams competing for a league title (Carroll). L-C’s one of the hottest teams in the country right now, and while it didn’t rise in the most-recent poll to come out, it’s safe to assume that L-C could easily rise into the top 15 if it continues to play the way it has.